The Employee Free Choice Act
With the Obama administration set to take office, the most significant change in employment law on the horizon is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bill that passed in the House of Representatives in 2007 but was filibustered in the Senate. The EFCA would make it possible to unionize without an employee election. Incoming President Obama supports the EFCA, and the Republican minority is thought to be unlikely—or unable—to oppose it.
Under the current law, organizers of a collective bargaining unit must obtain sufficient employee signatures to trigger an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. If a majority of the proposed unit approves, the employees become unionized. The EFCA would eliminate this election phase, and instead would merely require that a majority of employees sign union cards for the employees to become unionized. Critics of this new approach argue that employers could effectively be “blindsided” by unions, and would not have a chance to present their case against unionization before it occurs. Critics also contend that the proposed law would be unfair to workers opposing a union because it would not provide them with a secret ballot and, thus, an opportunity to privately vote their non-support for a union.
The EFCA is opposed by many business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but it has received significant support from organized labor.